New 2014 Mac Mini as living room media unit... general questions :)

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by axetanman, Nov 27, 2014.

  1. axetanman macrumors newbie

    Nov 27, 2014
    Hi everyone, I am relatively new to the apple world (came over from Android/Windows) but can definitely say I am VERY impressed and happy I made the switch :)

    Was just hoping to get some insight from you experts here about my new setup. I got the new 2014 mini for our living room as a media unit (will be playing music, netflix, movies, internet browsing etc) - but havent hooked it up yet.

    I have 2 bookshelf speakers, 1 sub woofer, and a center speaker sound setup that also goes to the AVR, and of course a flat screen tv.

    1) My question is -- does the mini support 2.1 sound via HDMI to the AVR? Will I be losing any audio quality or any audio features by using a mac mini?

    2) For internet browsing, is there any app or interface to make the UI a better fit for a living room tv? I've read that the font/icons can be hard to read even if you enlarge them because the mac mini is not meant for a big tv?

    3) I plan to get plex server and plex media player for the mac mini, other than loading my movie/tv collection to it and playing it off my tv, is there anything else cool I am missing here that I can do with this?

    4) If I have a mac mini as media unit, is there any purpose in owning a roku at this point?

    Thank you!!
  2. cinealta macrumors 6502

    Dec 9, 2012
    Hi, congrats and welcome to Macintosh!

    I'm researching your same questions for myself so I don't have any definitive answers at the moment but I came across these threads which may help you in the meantime:
  3. blanka macrumors 68000

    Jul 30, 2012
    No need to route sound over HDMI. It works equally well over optical.
    I run XBMC instead of plesk. The server/client combo is not needed.
    Internet works great. As long as you have a fullHD TV. 720p/HD ready is not usable.
  4. Vundu macrumors 65816


    Jun 10, 2009
    Manchester, UK
    HDMI can pass higher-resolution audio, including more formats like Dolby TrueHD and DTS HD Master Audio.

    Optical cannot transmit these. No need for two cables when one does the job better.
  5. Darby67 macrumors 6502

    Jul 5, 2011
    the corner of Fire and Brimstone
    Unfortunately it has no bearing on a Mac as an HTPC as HD audio is not passed.
  6. Vundu macrumors 65816


    Jun 10, 2009
    Manchester, UK
    Oh well. Suppose it still saves having one cable instead of two wired up.
  7. axetanman thread starter macrumors newbie

    Nov 27, 2014
    thank you kindly for the info!

    so even if i have decent bookshelf speakers and a good AVR, i am not getting the max potential out of them if i hook up the mac mini to this audio system?

    If i have 2.1 sound with a center speaker, will movei audio correctly play out with the sound setup (ie: dialogue from center, sound fx from 2 bookshelf speakers) through a mac mini?
  8. PhoenixMac macrumors 65816

    Mar 7, 2010
    I use my mini as a HTPC and I get 3.0 sound out of my receiver with a hdmi cable. Dialogue from center and effects from L and R
  9. Ray2 macrumors 6502a

    Jul 8, 2014
    Re Plex. Recognize its basically freeware supported by a very geeky community. Stability (especially with new versions) is a low priority afterthought. I've been using it since v8. Its great in that it can handle very large libraries, easy to update, very good interface. But it may not be family friendly. I still make continual walks to my iMac to straighten something or another out via screen sharing.

    I'm now using v9.54, a few year old version but I find it the most stable. Limit your updates, you can have 1 a week in some months. Limit 3rd party add-ons (like skins) as the new versions frequently break compatibility.
  10. talmy macrumors 601


    Oct 26, 2009
    Just an aside: I've used 2009 and 2012 base model minis as entertainment centers, currently using one of each in two locations and a Roku in a third. An additional mini, with gobs of external drives, sits in another room as a server (primarily Plex for this use).

    Change the resolution to 720p from 1080p helps for this.

    It will also stream music from an iTunes library and photos from iPhoto/Aperture libraries. What it doesn't do well (and does less and less) is stream from sources like Netflix, Amazon...

    Good for Netflix, Amazon, ...

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